Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hussein marries English girl

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 May 25, 1961

King Hussein of Jordan today married Antoinette Avril Gardiner, the 20-year-old daughter of a British Army officer.  They were married in a five-minute ceremony, which took place at the Zahran Palace, the home of Hussein's mother, in Amman.

Miss Gardiner has taken the name Muna and will be known as Muna-al-Hussein.  The King announced yesterday that his wife "will have no title and no royal position," but would be known by a term "roughly translated as 'Her Gracious Ladyship.'"

She will not be known as Queen.   The green-eyed 5 foot 2-inch young woman is a former typist who has "won the heart of the Amman crowds."    The Jordanian people appear to support the 25-year-old King's decision to "overrule traditionalists who have opposed the marriage of the head of the Hashemite family to an English girl."

This is the King's second marriage.  His first marriage ended in divorce.

Muna was dressed in a "cream-colored silk gown spangled with diamonds and pearls, topped with a crescent headdress of orange blossoms."

The bride and groom were seated at a coffee table where they signed five copies of the marriage contract, and then "leaned over and gave each other a perfunctory kiss."

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 King Hussein took two plain gold rings from his pocket. He put one on the bride's third finger of her left hand, and she put the other ring on his finger.

The bride's father, Lieut. Col. Walter Gardiner is an adviser to the Jordanian Army.

King Hussein and his new wife met at a party earlier this year given by her father.  She has only a "secondary school education, much of it devoted to ballet dancing, and her academic accomplishments do not overshadow the king's."   Formerly known as "Toni," Muna shares her husband's love of "fast cars, airplanes, and parties where the music and dancing last until dawn."

Western diplomats in Jordan are concerned about the marriage, "in which love overrode political consideration."  They are worried that a half-British heir "might be unable to maintain the Hashemite dynasty," which can be traced back to Mohammed.

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